Beattie leaves brave Bradford broken

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The Independent Football

Southampton's ability to turn their rusting and soon-to-be-demolished ground into a castle was extended yesterday when they achieved their fifth successive home clean sheet. But their victory was slow progress.

Southampton's ability to turn their rusting and soon-to-be-demolished ground into a castle was extended yesterday when they achieved their fifth successive home clean sheet. But their victory was slow progress.

For all of the improvements under Glenn Hoddle's management, the foundations of Southampton's future at a new stadium now under construction have to be the points that they regularly win at the old Dell. Bradford, with only one away win all season, offered them one of their better opportunities to add a brick or two to their guarantee of a Premiership future.

After losing 3-0 at home to Aston Villa, Bradford had again rued the absence of Benito Carbone. He was unfit to play yesterday, but in any case he is as out of place at Bradford as a Ferrari in a stock-car race, and is determined to return to Italy. First Division football is not his idea of fun, and without him, Bradford again lacked the touches of the unexpected needed in the higher class. Their predictable, speculative long passes continually foundered.

Not that Southampton's infinitely more enterprising but too often inaccurate midfield play quickly won them many serious openings. The absence of Kevin Davies and Hassan Kachloul was noticeable.

When after 27 minutes Southampton did eventually set up a highly promising attack, Marian Pahars slid on the soft ground in an attempt to force in Claus Lundekvam's deep centre, but Andrew O'Brien urgently got behind him to secure Bradford's exposed goal. The chance did little to improve Southampton's often sloppy passing, but added some confidence to Bradford's fully-employed defence.

Through Southampton's negligence, Bradford held on and slowly gathered some confidence. They were considerably helped by seeing Southampton waste so much possession in the last third. Dan Petrescu, clearly wanting to impress against his former club, gradually encouraged Southampton to become more positive and himself blazed a bending shot that Gary Walsh stifled with some difficulty.

That seemed to act as Southampton's touchpaper. Having not previously had a shot of any consequence, suddenly they were queuing up. Mathew Oakley hit one mighty close before, in the 60th minute, Jo Tessem crossed for Pahars, who had found space beyond the far post and solidly headed in his first goal since September. Not three minutes later Southampton's situation strengthened further when Petrescu saw James Beattie unmarked in the penalty area and centred accurately. Beattie simply sidefooted in Southampton's second goal.

Bradford's honest endeavour had been typical, but that was the extent of their merits. The difference in the sides was encapsulated in the performance of Southampton's Oakley - endeavour allied to match-winning ingenuity.

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